Precise pitching lifts Fruita Major girls past Grand Mesa
When it comes to pitching philosophy, Fruita Major girls softball coach Ron Reed looks no further than former Major League Baseball All-Stars Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
“They’re not power pitchers, they just hit spots and change speeds,” Reed said. “Even fast-pitch girls, they’re going to throw really fast, but people will catch up to that. It’s hard to keep (opponents) off balance.”
Saturday at the District 1 Little League tournament, Reed’s daughter Lauren was able to hit her spots and mix in a changeup to keep opponents off guard in a 9-2 win over Grand Mesa.
Fruita’s win pushed the double elimination tournament another day and sets up a winner-takes-all championship game today at 10 a.m. It will be the third game between the teams in the tournament.
Lauren Reed threw a complete game and allowed only three hits.
“When I was practicing with my dad this morning he told me ‘You have to change speeds a lot,’ ” she said. “That’s what I did. I threw a lot of changeups and fastballs and made it harder for them to hit.”
Although Reed only had three strikeouts, the change in speed led to numerous infield ground balls. The defense made one error on a hard liner to first base, but otherwise made the plays it needed to.
Grand Mesa coach Kevin Rubalcaba gave credit to Reed for the change in speeds and keeping his team guessing.
“We were hitting the ball, we were just hitting it right to somebody,” Rubalcaba said. “Give Fruita credit, they made the plays when they had to.”
Offensively, Fruita got out to a good start in the top of the first inning. Reed led the game off with a single and after a ground out by ShaRae Dorscher, Kelli DeCrow and Olivia Bratt reached on consecutive walks.
All three later scored, the latter two on a single to right field by Hannah Thornburg.
“Hitting the ball in the first inning made us get going so that we could hit the ball throughout the game,” Lauren Reed said.
In the bottom of the third inning, Grand Mesa had a brief rally that narrowed the lead.
Marisa Renova started the inning with a single and was moved to second on a sacrifce bunt. Sydney Corra then reached base on an error and the two were brought in on an outfield single by Callie Rubalcaba.
In the top half of the fourth, Fruita had two runners reach base on errors who later scored them on a fielder’s choice hit to the infield and a bunt.
Fruita scored one more in the fifth, and three in the sixth.
Kevin Rubalcaba said part of his team’s struggles could be attributed to an extra day off Friday, when the game was postponed because of weather.
“We had a hitting practice Thursday expecting to play Friday,” he said. “They had that extra day and the girls came out flat. Fruita jumped on us early and I think the girls never responded.”
Grand Mesa beat Fruita 7-5 Wednesday and Rubalcaba said he’s confident the team can rebound.
“We told the girls we have no pressure on them,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get our bats going and play some solid defense (Sunday).”